What Is The Secret In That Black Box?

The Gothenburg Tales

Kovuuri G. Reddy
3 min readOct 24, 2020

The three visitors waited, after they had warily pressed the button on the destination-control panel, and the doors to the elevator closed reluctantly. They had to reach the second-storey of the five-storeyed library but the elevator descended down.

In the lowest floor of the library, a woman past her prime entered in. She pressed the button and tried to stand away from the three other passengers but the space was a constraint. These days were dictated by the coronavirus pandemic but it was her decision to go out for an outing: a visit to the main library in Gothenburg that is opened all days in a week.

The Gothenburg Tales. Photo: Kovuuri G. Reddy

The woman in sports attire among the three looked at the woman past her prime, and acknowledged her with facial gesture. An acknowledgement that they knew what beauty treatment was in the market for women nearing seventies.

The unemployed artist among the three glanced at the woman past her prime and turned his head away out of fear. Her face showed something similar to a snake’s moulting: a translucent layer of skin the reptile sheds for renewal of skin. Luckily, she exited on the floor they entered in. There were two other visitors who blenched upon the exit of the woman past her prime and on the threshold of dotage for they could not make a decision to get in upon seeing her. In addition to the fear over coronavirus, there was this transparent filament adorning the face of the woman who stepped out just now. They jerked to the side as though they saw a white witch with the blackest crown of abundant hairs.

The elevator ascended with the three visitors. The woman in sports attire asked young woman in a sulky face but fit like a racing horse while the unemployed artist was preoccupied in his artistic creation. ‘What is it?’

The young woman ignored to reply to the woman in sports attire. She leaned in a corner of the elevator and held a black box in one hand. It resembled something like an ancient lantern but without light in it.

Again the woman in sports attire asked. ‘What is it?’


‘The one you’re carrying in the black box, what is it?’

‘Can’t you see,’ she retorted. She thought the oldie was trying to look young with her outfit but her age showed all over hands. And peering over other’s private space.

‘That’s why, I’m asking you.’

‘It’s, secret,’ the young woman said.

The woman in sports attire looked at the unemployed artist. Their lips lit up with a suppressed smile and their foreheads ridged into a surprise.

The elevator announced, you have reached the second floor. The young woman rushed out towards a group room reserved for a group of special people with special needs. The unemployed artist stepped out at the speed of a snail towards a corner where artists-in-creation lingered.

The woman in sports attire started to rummage in the library for books on beauty tips but the black box nagged her: what is it? What is inside? A snake? A hamster? A black magic thingy? A fertilizing material for creation? Her failure to solicit an answer from the young woman for ‘what is it’ nagged her further. She started to look for that young woman with the black box. ‘What is the secret in that black box, ah?’



Kovuuri G. Reddy

Independent journalist; short, short story writer; living in Sweden. Worked as a broadcast journalist and teaching journalsim and media in England and India.